22 January 2014

East African Community Disowns Uganda's Military Intervention in South Sudan

Photo: Samara Scott/U.S. Army Africa
East Africa member states criticise Uganda for sending its army to fight alongside S. Sudan forces (file photo).

Differences have emerged between member states of the East African Community (EAC) after Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni sent his troops to South Sudan to fight alongside forces loyal to the South Sudanese president Salva kiir.

Museveni admits that Uganda's soldiers are helping President Salva Kiir fight rebels.

Recent unconfirmed reports suggest that the East African Community supports Uganda's military intervention in South Sudan.

However, for the first time, Kenya's cabinet secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Jepkosgei Kandie, said Uganda's decision to engage militarily in the South Sudan is "political" and not supported by the EAC.

"That is an issue for Uganda, and I can say that it is mainly political, but I wouldn't want to discuss it", Kandie told the Observer Newspaper (Uganda).

Kandie also explained that what the EAC member states agreed on during its session was a "humanitarian support" and not the other way around.

"When we talk of humanitarian support, we mean the thousands of refugees that cross into our countries", Kandie said.

"Kenya for example has been receiving a lot of refugees from Somalia and now South Sudan; do you just ignore such people? No, you have to offer humanitarian support and that is what we agreed as EAC", she added.

Late last week, two leading Kenya's Senators asked Kampala to immediately withdraw its soldiers from the violence-wrecked nation and accused Museveni of pursuing "hidden interests".

Meanwhile, Sudan said it will not allow any foreign military intervention in South Sudan and asserted that it has more interests in the young nation than the rest of the East African countries.

Fighting erupted in Juba on the 15th of December 2013, between different units of presidential guards just one day after senior members of the ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) party walked out of the National Liberation Council (NLC) meeting on December 14; labeling the process as "undemocratic".

IGAD-led Peace talks are currently underway in Ethiopia.

Kampala has been widely suspected of fighting alongside with forces loyal to President Kiir. Most South Sudanese believe that Yoweri Museveni has chosen Kiir's side. The recent revelation over Kampala's military participation could further fuel the conflict.

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